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Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,435 ratings  ·  271 reviews
The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With
Hardcover, First Simon & Schuster hardover edition February 2019, 538 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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4.45  · 
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 ·  1,435 ratings  ·  271 reviews

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Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read several books on this catastrophe, I was tempted yet again to learn more about the disaster which affected directly, among others, my country to a still unknown degree. The Midnight in Chernobyl is one of the best non-fiction that you can read in order to obtain the most insightful and detailed account into the reasons behind the explosion, but it offers more. The Author tells the story of the nuclear ambitions during the communist era in the USSR, describes the building process of b ...more
Nick T. Borrelli
The Chernobyl disaster is an event that has fascinated me over the past couple of decades. I was in my early teens when it actually happened and although I remember seeing the news stories about the disaster on TV, being an adolescent at the time with an adolescent's priorities, it didn't really register with me. As I've gotten older I have become more interested in reading about historical events that took place either before I was born or when I was too young to fully appreciate the significan ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book as a giveaway for goodreads. Interesting book about the horrible events that unfolded almost 30 years ago. It gives you a look at why it was created, why the location, who were involved, what are atoms, Gemma and beta, and so forth. I do wish we got more information about the people made to leave and followed them more, but this book focused more on the administration which was still really interesting. Granted, I’m not 100 percent sure how accurate it is and how dramatic the aut ...more
Kate ☀️ Olson
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Riveting, horrifying, absolutely STELLAR reporting. I have always been fascinated (in horror) at the Chernobyl disaster and this book was JUST what I needed to wrap my mind around it. The only criticism I can possibly think of is that I would have loved even MORE pictures but I was able to find tons on The Atlantic and Nat Geo and Time online to fulfill my need for visual confirmation. What I found even more fascinating about this account than the many articles I had read previously was the deta ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Midnight in Chernobyl is a definitive and chilling account of the nuclear disaster that began on April 25-26, 1986 when the fourth nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl plant imploded, causing a nuclear disaster that the USSR tried to deny but had to reveal when the fallout spread into Europe.

If you remember Chernobyl, this book is definitely worth reading.

If the words Chernobyl or USSR seem like ancient history, Midnight in Chernobyl is definitely worth reading.

When Reactor #4 of the Chernobyl Nuc
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everyone knows that Chernobyl was a horrible nuclear accident that poisoned the entire area around the reactor. So—what is to be learned in this latest recounting of the disaster? Plenty! Higginbotham’s excellent journalism reads like a true crime novel. And his human interest stories place a human face on the tragedy.

It all began innocently enough—just a routine safety check to simulate what would happen during an electrical blackout on April 25th, 1986. The senior engineer, Leonid Toptunov, be
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author has written an impressive, comprehensive book of historical importance. It brings to light events surrounding the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986 which may be unknown to many in the Western world, and even to the Russian people. The author presents a crash course in nuclear physics and energy, simplified as much as possible. This may present difficulties for the average reader without some background knowledge. I thought the human factor surrounding the disaster to be interesting and ap ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It could have easily become the end of the world as we know it.....a nuclear disaster which was not connected to war......a series of human error that continues to haunt. This is the harrowing account of the April, 1986 explosion at Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station in Chernobyl, Ukraine (then the USSR) which released unbelievable amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. The ever-secretive Soviet government attempted to keep news of this horror from becoming public even within t ...more
ElizabethAnne Olsen
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just. Fucking. Fantastic. The descriptions of the destruction seemed so surreal like it was a fictional dystopian novel. So difficult to grasp the enormity of this as a real event. The horrific descriptions of ailments to the ones who suffered exposure was intense and necessary. Everyone should real this book. Everyone.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating, horrifying, depressing, and enlightening read, with tons of details I'd never heard or learned before. What's most terrifying is how much the chances of this were known inside the former Soviet Union and covered up for years (along with previous accidents). The heroism of many Russians is astounding in dealing with this crisis, as is the callousness of others. A warning for the nuclear energy industry and all of us, about how quickly this technology can spiral out of contr ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Steven Z.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
March 28, 1979 was an overcast day in Woodbridge, Va. when news arrived of a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor near Middletown, Pa. Feeling totally in the dark when it came to information about the accident, my neighbors and I gathered outside our homes and immediately began testing to see which way the winds were blowing, and should we pack up and head in the opposite direction. Living about two and a half hours from the reactor which would eventually partially melt down, we ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
It took fourteen days to read, but I was riveted and fascinated the entire time. I am too young to remember the Chernobyl melt down when the event took place in 1986, but I'm certain it's an event that contributed to my very vague, yet frightening notions of the war grown ups referred to as Cold.

Later in life, I discovered pictures of Pripyat -an abandoned and radioactive city. These images captivated and haunted me. Yet, why did Chernobyl really melt down, and could other nuclear power plants f
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was horrifying. I’m pretty sure it has been giving me nightmares ever since I started reading it. I’ve known of Chernobyl for a long while, even before I knew what radioactivity was. But I don’t think I’m against nuclear energy as a power source. But this book, about how calamitous Chernobyl really was, and how much USSR got away with covering up for the most part; it has made me question the sanity of this stuff.

It was also uniquely depressing, because you would think nuclear physicis
Paul Pessolano
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Midnight in Chernobyl” by Adam Higginbotham, published by Simon & Schuster.

Category – History/Nuclear Physics - Publication Date – February 12, 2019.

This is the most compelling and honest account of the Chernobyl disaster that has ever been written.

I am not a physicist or a nuclear physicist; in fact, I had a difficult time with basic Math. So saying that there is a lot of jargon concerning what happened that night in nuclear physics terminology and it is necessary that it be read so the re
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I was alive when reactor number four explode, I was far too young to have any conscious memories or thoughts about it. Over the years there have been a few programs scattered across different t.v channels about the disaster and my parents have said a few bits and pieces about things that came up on the news at the time. But the whole truth all ways seemed to be just out of sight. It is one of those stories that desperately wants to be told but no one would seem overly willing to set out a ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexander Vishnyakov
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A monumental work which explores the causes of the worst nuclear accident in history. The blame is mainly placed on the delapidated Soviet system itself. The book demonstrates how planned Soviet economy promoted negligence and stifled the free flow of information, which is essential for such complicated scientific projects as nuclear reactors. The attention to details is simply staggering, a compulsive read which will keep you awake at night.
Samantha Colwell
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I needed to live with a level of ignorance about what could possibly happen to my body during a nuclear holocaust, but now I am far too knowledgeable. Review from

I have always been fascinated by the Chernobyl disaster, like many other morbid connoisseurs of dilapidation and urban decay. Perhaps it’s the ghostly remains of the abandoned Pripyat, surrendering slowly to the landscape year after year. The unused ferris wheel still stands erect like a beacon of hubris, represe
lacy [lacy’s library]
A special thank you goes out to Netgalley and Simon and Shuster for allowing me to read this early. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

First Thoughts
I went on a nonfiction phase for a while and requested quite a few nonfiction books on Netgalley. This was one of them because it combined my interest of nonfiction and my love for Russian history. If you do not all know, I am a fan of Russian history. I prefer tsarist Russia (so like Catherine the Great and Tsar Nicholas Romanov) but I’ll take a
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
*** Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for this complimentary advanced virtual copy in return for an honest and unbiased review. ***

On Saturday, April 26, 1986, reactor number four of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat in the Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, exploded during a safety system test that was supposed to have been taken place before the reactor was approved for operation in December 1983. The years leading to this nuclear disaster were spiked with propaganda
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was thoroughly engaged by Higginbotham's compelling narrative of the total and utter disaster of Chernobyl. I didn't really know anything about it until picking up this book. What was most surprising about this disaster was all the problems leading up to it. Shortly after the disaster occurred, some of those in leadership said that if the accident at Chernobyl hadn't happened there, it would have undoubtedly occurred somewhere else in the U.S.S.R. as if this was simply inevitable. And perhaps ...more
My favorite book I have read so far this year, and I suspect it may not be topped in the remaining eight months.

Really really fascinating, and while I recall when this accident happened, I really had no feeling for just how catastrophic it was. I mean I had NO IDEA the Chernobyl #4 reactor completely EXPLODED. I knew something bad had happened and a lot of radiation escaped. But this book will completely put you there, in that time and space.

I work for a major power utility, and yes we have nuke
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to find a book that combines impeccable journalism with a cracking good story, but here you have it. Lavishly referenced and footnoted, this definitive history of the world's worst nuclear accident (so far) nearly creates its own genre. With astute tie-ins to Cold War politics and the then-imminent collapse of the Soviet state, it's a geopolitical thriller and a history book. With graphic descriptions of the otherworldly effects of radiation, it's a horror story. With explanations of t ...more
Linda Lipko
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very detailed book not only about the world's greatest nuclear disaster, but it also contains an in-depth look at the Russian government and the system that help create dangerous nuclear power plants, and then systematically hid and covered up the many all-too-frequent disasters that occurred due to shoddy work and inept people at the controls.
Faith McLellan
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A riveting work of investigative journalism and scholarship. Filled with utterly fantastic details. A terribly human story, of monumental importance.
Charlene Mathe
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book you will not forget, with many lessons on human character and bureaucratic inefficiencies. A great chapter in the Human Story well worth the read.
Mary Hinkle
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gripping account of what really happened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on the night of April, 26, 1986, what led to the explosion and its grim aftermath. So much I didn’t know about this world-changing disaster!
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is not only a ripping yarn about the real past but is also a warning for the future. Seldom have I read such a clear, riveting account of an historical event. Highly recommended - though very sobering.
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